Nearly 2 million people have been deported during President Obama's administration.
In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I give advice on how to prepare in the event that you are detained and leave your family protected.
This is the column:
Almost 369,000 people were deported in fiscal year 2013, according to newly released figures by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Of that number, 59% have a criminal record.
During President Obama's administration, approximately 2 million people have been deported. Although ICE has been ordered to use prosecutorial discretion, prioritizing the deportation of undocumented individuals with serious criminal histories, the reality is that every undocumented person who is detained could be removed from the country.
The possibility of being separated from your family is a source of fear. But do you know what to do if you or a family member is detained by ICE?
Anyone detained by ICE should remain calm, remain quiet, and ask to speak to an immigration attorney or federally accredited representative. Notaries or immigration consultants cannot provide legal advice.
Do not sign anything without first talking to a lawyer. Signing documents without understanding their contents could hurt your chances of staying in the country.
Generally, ICE has 48 hours to decide whether to place a detainee in immigration proceedings before a judge, remand them into custody, or release them on bond or parole. After 72 hours, ICE must serve what is called a "Notice to Appear" - a notice to appear before an immigration judge, detailing information about your hearing.
The judge can review ICE's decisions. The judge takes into account the person's criminal and immigration history, whether the person is a danger to the community, and whether the judge believes the person may flee without appearing at future hearings. If the judge grants a bond, it cannot be less than $1,500.
It is important to be prepared in case you are detained. Make sure that a family member or trusted person has access to key documents such as your birth certificate and passport. In addition, they should know the following information:
The detainee's full name, other names used, date of birth, alien registration number known as an "A" number, if he or she has one, and how and when he or she entered the United States.
If you have children, arrange in advance who can care for them if you are detained.
You must have a legal fund. Unless you are able to defend yourself or get free help from a licensed legal representative, you will have to pay several thousand dollars for your legal representation.
To find out where a person is being detained, you can use ICE's online locator: https://locator.ice.gov. They will only find people in ICE custody, or who have been released from custody within 60 days. The search engine does not have access to records of persons under the age of 18.